TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Western Balkan countries on Thursday launched free roaming for all mobile phone users within the region as a first step of regional cooperation in their path toward joining the bigger European Union bloc.
Cell phone providers will no longer apply roaming charges for people traveling inside the region following an agreement that the regional countries — Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia —- reached two years ago.
The move follows the same policy among EU member states.
Western Balkan countries are at different stages of integration with the bloc. Montenegro and Serbia have started full membership negotiations, while Albania and North Macedonia are expecting to launch them. Kosovo and Bosnia have signed the Stabilization and Association Agreement, the first step in the long process.
The free roaming agreement will help the Western Balkan countries in their application for a EU project to mobilize 9 billion euros ($11 billion) and potentially raise investment of up to 20 billion euros ($24 billion) in 2021 to 27 for the region, which has a population of 18 million. The funds are meant for long-term recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic and to better connect regional economies with each other and with the EU.
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